Published In

Proceedings of the 2001 International Workshop on Multimedia Middleware

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date



Middleware, Adaptive computing sytems, Multimedia systems


Middleware, from the earliest RPC systems to recent Object-Oriented Remote Message Sending (RMS) systems such as Java RMI and CORBA, claims transparency as one of its main attributes. Coulouris et al. define transparency as “the concealment from the … application programmer of the separation of components in a distributed system.” They go on to identify eight different kinds of transparency.

We considered titling this paper “Transparency Considered Harmful”, but that title is misleading because it implies that all kinds of transparency are bad. This is not our view. Rather, we believe that the choice of which transparencies should be offered by a middleware platform is critically dependent on the use to be made of that platform. Specifically, we argue that network transparency and concurrency transparency are inappropriate for middleware that is designed to support multimedia applications. This is because a network that is “transparent” is a network that is hidden, and thus one whose Quality of Service aspects are also hidden.


A Position Paper submitted to the International Workshop on Multimedia Middleware, Ottawa, October 2001, and published in its proceedings. Available at DOI: 10.1145/985135.985146. ©2001 ACM

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